This year was the first time I encountered a worthwhile, full-sized, bluetooth, multidevice keyboard. Most people have seen or used the Logitech K480 – another multidevice keyboard that works great but it’s mostly for tablets, entertainment centers, or people who don’t use the numeric keypad that often. The Logitech K780, on the other hand, does have a numeric keypad, and functions essentially the same as the Logitech K480.
Dump the Multi-Keyboard Setup With a Multidevice Keyboard
One of my most frequent day-to-day annoyances is switching between three developer computers. I was using three separate wired keyboards, which I would slide out of the way whenever I needed to use one of the other machines. As long as I maintained a consistent keyboard slide pattern, the wires would stay substantially untangled. But most of the time, they were a tangled mess, which must indicate that I’m an inconsistent keyboard slider. Or maybe just that I have a terrible multi-keyboard setup.
I considered buying a Keyboard-Video-Mouse (KVM) device that would allow me to use one wired keyboard and one mouse with my three machines and two monitors. Unfortunately, a quality KVM switch is prohibitively expensive (to me, at least) so I crossed this option off the list.
There are a lot of wireless keyboards out there, but the pool of keyboards that are wireless AND multidevice is pretty small. The K780 solves that by being wireless and connecting to up to three separate devices.
The K780 supports Bluetooth, meaning it will connect to most smartphones, tablets, modern smart TV’s, and anything else that supports a Bluetooth keyboard. Note that not everything in, on, and around your entertainment center supports Bluetooth keyboards. For instance, my Roku 2 and DirecTV Genie don’t have that feature, however, my Apple TV does.
As far as computers go, you can use the included Logitech Unifying Receiver, a tiny device you plug into a USB port. The Unifying Receiver has an added benefit of communicating with most Logitech wireless mice (there are notable exceptions, like some of Logitech’s gaming mouse models). You only need one Unifying Receiver for both your mouse and keyboard, and there’s no need to move the Unifying Receiver from machine to machine. The K780 can connect to three separate receivers. Keep in mind it only comes with one receiver, so if you have three computers you’ll need to buy two more receivers. With that said, your other computers probably already have receivers if they’re using Logitech wireless mice. And most modern computers have the ability to connect via Bluetooth.
Also Great for Smart Devices
My problem was strictly the multi-keyboard issue with my various computers. But they’re serious when they say multidevice: this thing also works great for smart devices like your phone or tablet. Sometimes you want to write a really long text to someone but don’t have the patience to use the on-screen keypad. The K780 will seamlessly connect to your phone via Bluetooth (unwanted advice: just call them next time). There are times when i’m using my iPad and the on-screen keyboard is just too impractical to use. Again, the K780 connects via Bluetooth. Another great feature – it has a built-in cradle that you can set your phone or tablet in, which makes it sort of a mini-laptop setup. We use this setup in the kitchen all the time to keep recipes readily available and easily viewable.
Batteries: a Non-Issue with the K780
The last time I owned any wireless keyboard was in the early 2000s, and I eventually garage-saled it because it chewed through batteries every couple of weeks. I’ve had the K780 for four months now and I’m still on the two original AAA batteries that came with it. I use this every day, all day, for eight to twelve hours per day, and I never use the on/off switch. With all the auto power-saving features these devices have nowadays, I suspect the switch is more to prevent the batteries from being inadvertently drained when the keyboard is packed away in your carry-on and your overpacked underpants try to write a memoir.
Multidevice Capability When Travelling
Speaking of travelling, I generally don’t pack an external keyboard. It is, however, nice to know that I could if I wanted to. The K780 is almost the exact same width as my 15.6-inch laptop, which fits nicely in my rolling laptop bag, as does this keyboard.
Despite the mid-sized sedan form factor, the keyboard feel substantial and solid. The word “substantial” isn’t something you always want to hear applied to a device you may pack with your laptop on business trips, but I think it’s a good thing. For example, I once bought a Motorola Droid because the commercial monster made me get it. I was highly disappointed when I removed it from the packaging and it felt as heavy as a credit card. In my head I’m thinking “how can something so light possibly be worth the money I just spent on it?” Later on, I figured out it was so light because they had eliminated all the performance and reliability from it.
In terms of keyboards, I like one that doesn’t feel like it’s going to get pushed off my desk when I’m typing. The K780 is just under two pounds and has five grippy rubber feet that keep it firmly planted wherever I last placed it. By comparison, the Dell keyboard that came with my desktop is a little over one pound, has zero grippy feet, and slides all over the place during angry and heated typing sessions.
Few Complaints, Multidevice Support is Not One of Them
It’s great that the Logitech K780 supports multiple devices and connects wirelessly, however, there are some qualities that diminish the user experience for developers.
When I wrote, “full-sized” I meant it in a Honda Accord way; a Ford Taurus…not so much. Today’s true full-sized keyboard would put the F-keys in their own row, with media keys and device selector buttons in their own row. The K780 handles that by adding a “fn” key (like many laptops have) that you press in combination with the F-keys. Also, a full-sized keyboard typically has a small section between the keyboard proper and the numeric keypad. This section is reserved for those navigation keys you so take for granted until you realize you have to toggle num-lock to access them. The “home” key shares real estate with the keypad “7”, the “pg up” shares “9”, so on and so forth. Though they are tiny, the K780 does have dedicated arrow keys that don’t require a SHIFT or Alt or Fn combo to activate.
Some people may have trouble adjusting to the low-profile, circular keys. It took me a week or so to get comfortable, but I’m slow on the uptake.
My chief complaint about this keyboard is the lack of a Pause/Break key. As far as I can tell, there is no way to send a Pause/Break signal from this keyboard, even when setting up a custom configuration using the Logitech Options desktop app that comes with this keyboard. This missing feature impacts perhaps 1% of keyboard users. If you’ve never used it before, you probably won’t. It impacts me because I provide technical support for a couple of old legacy applications where the Pause/Break key is used to stop app when it’s stuck. My workaround is to hold CTRL-Fn-PAUSE in the on-screen keyboard app that comes with Windows.
None of these complaints has proven to be strong enough to outweigh the convenience of having a single wireless multidevice keyboard instead of a jumbled multi-keyboard mass of wires.
Complaints aside, the Logitech K780 multidevice wireless Bluetooth keyboard has proven itself by virtue of still being on my desk after four months. In fact, I’m typing this review with my K780. Barring any catastrophes, I expect this will continue to be my long-term, day-to-day keyboard for a long time to come. That is, until I can get my hands on Logitech’s new multidevice wireless Bluetooth offering, the K375s, which looks to be the Ford Taurus I’ve been waiting for.